For an overview of Zephyr and how it operates view an online interview with Supt Nigel Rock, who heads up the team.
What is Zephyr all about?
Zephyr is made up of three teams – the intelligence team, the financial investigation team and the operational team. They work together across county borders to identify, destroy and dismantle serious and organised crime and seize the assets of the criminals involved.
The financial investigation team (known as the Regional Asset Recovery Team) is a crucial part of the approach so that these criminals will not only face possible jail terms but also be stripped of the proceeds of their crimes. The principle is that criminals who might serve a prison sentence, for their offences could also lose the expensive homes, cars or other assets that they may have accrued through their crimes.
What is serious and organised crime?
Serious and organised crime refers to those offences where the criminal is making a living out of crime, as opposed to opportunist crime. It refers to organised groups and networks who effectively operate as a business. It can include a range of crime types, from drug smuggling and dealing to rogue trading, money laundering and distraction burglary.
What successes have you had so far?
In the first two years of being set up, Zephyr have made 189 arrests across five force areas for a range of offences including money laundering, fraud, management of brothels, possession of illegal drugs and immigration offences. 141 criminals have been charged and are in the Criminal Justice System with prison sentences in excess of 78 years. Zephyr have seized over 25kgs of Class A drugs, 455 litres of Class A drugs, 67kgs of cutting agent, 11kgs of Class B drugs, 229 Cannabis plants and one firearm with ammunition. £3 million of assets have been seized and there is £13 million under restraint pending Confiscation Orders. In total, 11 Organised Crime Groups have been disrupted by Zephyr.
How does Zephyr tie in with policing in my force area?
Operations that are run in a particular force area will be carried out in conjunction with officers from that force area. Neighbourhood policing remains a crucial part of the overall policing approach in working with communities and providing a detailed level of knowledge about the area they police and the community within it. The Zephyr team will continue to work with neighbourhood officers across the region to place offenders before the court.
It is also essential that through neighbourhood police teams – as well as direct to Zephyr or anonymously through Crimestoppers – we continue to receive information from the public about criminals operating in their neighbourhood if we are to continue to build on our success
What can the public do to help?
The public can speak to their local officers and PCSO’s if they see anything they are concerned about or are aware of people who are making money out of crime. Often those people who are responsible for serious and organised crime have expensive cars and homes and lavish lifestyles but no obvious means of income. The public can speak to their neighbourhood police teams about these sorts of concerns. Alternatively, they can contact the police on 101, contact the Zephyr team via the website or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.